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The Honest Company by Jessica Alba: Good, Bad, or Sneaky?

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We get multiple emails a day asking about Jessica Alba’s line of baby and household products, The Honest Company, whose mission is “to reduce the ubiquitous presence of toxic chemicals in our our natural environment, man-made environments, and our personal environments.”

It seems that Gimme the Good Stuff readers are all dying to know: Is The Honest Company truly good stuff?

I’d feel comfortable using most of the products in the Honest line (and give my private clients the green light on the diapers, which people seem to particularly love), but unfortunately there are a couple that are Sneaky: namely, the hand wash and the dish soap. Honest Auto Dishwasher Gel and Honest Laundry Detergent are questionable as they have undisclosed ingredients (see below).

I think Jessica Alba was coming from a sincere place when she created this company, and the website is more or less transparent, with a few vexing exceptions (see below).

Some people might not like the following:

  • The diapers contain SAP (less than conventional brands, however).
  • Some Honest products contain the preservative sodium benzoate.
  • Honest products are not 100% natural–they all contain a variety of synthetics, although for the most part these are synthetics that seem to be safe.
  • Some ingredients don’t have any safety data available (sodium lauroyl oat amino acid, for instance).
  • SNEAKY: Honest Hand Wash contains phenoxyethanol. This isn’t the very worst ingredient, but not the Good Stuff. Honest Dish Soap contains cocamidopropyl betaine, phenoxyethanol, and methylisothiazolinone.
  • MAYBE SNEAKY: Honest Laundry Detergent contains “100% biodegradable anionic coconut kernel-oil based surfactant” and the Honest Auto Dishwasher Gel contains “biodegradable low foam surfactant.” No one at the company can tell us any more detail about what these ingredients are, other than that they are “corn-based.” We’ve called several times.

Bottom Line: This stuff is much better than anything conventional you will buy, and stacks up well against most natural brands. Avoid the dish soap and hand wash.

Oh, and here are our picks for:

Stay sane,

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38 responses to “The Honest Company by Jessica Alba: Good, Bad, or Sneaky?”

  1. If you have severe soap allergies and reactions, I would recommend Nutriobiotics Coconut Oil Liquid Soaps. I couldn’t use Honest soaps.

  2. Will you do an updated version of this? I’m trying to do better about less toxic stuff for my family. And came across this but was hoping to find an updated one.

  3. Maia, would you consider doing an update on Honest now that they have rolled out a whole new line of cleaning, laundry, and other household products? Thanks!

  4. Any updates on this? They are back in the news again with a class action lawsuit…I can’t find a list of the actual ingredients that are considered toxic and what products they are in and it is driving me a bit nuts and leading me into endless web searching! I currently use the diapers, the organic healing balm (as diaper cream), the sweet orange vanilla shampoo and body wash (for my toddler), and just picked up the face and body lotion (for my soon to be newborn). Then I hear about all the bad stuff in regards to the class action suit. I can find the list of the products, but not the actual ingredients they are saying are “toxic”. To me saying they are making “natural” products but actually using synthetic ingredients is just morally wrong, but ultimately not that concerning if the synthetic ingredients are not actually toxic. But there are claims they are using proven toxic ingredients – which I would like to know what those ingredients are to check the products of theirs I use. That would be a deal breaker for me and I would no longer use the products that had ingredients in it that could affect my baby’s health! Thanks for all your work you do here guys!

  5. I have had a bundle subscription with Honest for about a year now, and really love most of the products. I have noticed they seem to be discontinuing several items, and when I customized my most recent bundle they are out of stock on a bunch more items. I am concerned that there are problems with the company itself. Have you heard anything?

  6. Hi! Do you have any updated news on the Honest Co. products? I’m thinking of ordering the hand/body lotion, feminine pads, deodorant, hand soap, bug spray and laundry detergent.

    Thanks!

  7. Hello there,
    I was thinking in buying the face and body lotion, but after I read your article, im not so sure. Do you recommended? Im looking for a good body lotion, i was using the ones by ‘kiss my face’ but Recently i started to inform myself about the ingredients of the products i use, and im trying to change as many of them as I can. Please advise. Thank you 🙂

  8. Unfortunately it appears the honest co. is not so honest with a very important product – infant formula!
    “The lawsuit against The Honest Co. alleges that the company is falsely representing its Premium Infant Formula as “organic,” when the product in fact contains 11 substances prohibited by federal law from organics. Some of the ingredients are federally regulated as hazardous compounds. At least one is irradiated. And some have not even been assessed as safe for human foods, much less for infant formulas.”
    Full article here: https://www.organicconsumers.org/press/organic-consumers-association-sues-two-infant-formula-makers-falsely-labeling-products-organic

  9. We really like the Honest healing balm. We use it as a diaper rash cream and it works wonderfully. All good ingredients.

    • Hi Heidi!
      I need to revisit the whole line of Honest products, and will be providing an updated review in the coming months!

      • Ok Thank You So Much.. I Was Just Asking Because I Had Ordered A Trial Package And In That Package It Comes With The Hand Soap And Body Wash So I Was Just Wondering If They Changed That As Well As The Dish Soap..

  10. I was wondering if there is anyway to find out if the use soybean oil in their body oil or anything else. I know it’s not required to be list as an ingredient in some things because it’s not considered an allergen. I tried contacting them and just got told the ingredients are listed on the site.

    • Hi there-
      Beyond asking the company for a complete list of ingredients or sending a sample to a lab for testing, I don’t know another way to confirm the presence of a trace of soy.

  11. What do you think about the toothpaste ingredients from the honest company. I’ve been seeing a post going around on Facebook about if your toothpaste has a certain color stripe on the crease it indicates whether it’s full of chemicals ie: if there’s a black strip there’s a lot if chemicals or if it’s green it natural, blue is supposed to be natural + medicine. Well there’s a black strip on the honest company toothpaste so brings me to wonder what is actually true

    • Hi Tiffany-
      No, this is not true. The colors on the bottom of the tube have nothing to do with the ingredients.

  12. After the whole thing with their sunscreen (it was found out they didn’t add enough zinc to work and it intensified the sunburn) I don’t trust them. Their diapers worked for my son until he was 4 months then suddenly he was leaking out of them and they were awful. I don’t trust them anymore.

  13. I have been a customer of Honest for a while… I have been honestly (no pun intended) wondering the validity of the “organicness” of the product, and, in an effort to validate my investment, began doing some research. Landed on your site — thank you for your candid reviews. Makes it really helpful as a consumer!

    I just ordered new Honest dish soap and the bottle said it had a new and improved formula… I am wondering (hoping) some of your no-no items were removed!

    • Yes, they removed a lot of the Bad Stuff! At this point the only ingredient I don’t love is the sodium benzoate–otherwise the dish soap is a pretty good option:).

  14. Where can I see the full list of ingredients for the Sonett Liquid Laundry detergent? Their website is pretty vague with things like ‘sugar surfactant’. I am wary because I have seen sodium cocs-sulfate as surfactant derived from coconut etc: But on reading up many people advise against sodium coco-sulfate.

    Thanks!

    • Hi there-
      I just emailed you a massive document from Sonett with all their ingredients in all their products! T

  15. I usually use vinegar and water to clean but, I would love to find a laundry soap and bath products that are safe. Are there other safer products a the same price point as Honest co?

    • If you sign up for our newsletter (upper left corner of the homepage), you can download our Safe Cleaning Products Guide, which lists a bunch of safe brands of different price points.

  16. I was wondering if you can share your thoughts on the honest company “all purpose cleaner” is that pretty safe to use compare to other brands that contains bleach Lysol cleaners and other countertop cleaners?? I use dr. bronner’s soap for hand wash and sometime dish washing. However I’ve been searching for all purpose house cleaning supply that is not so toxic and does the job well done. Thank you so much

  17. Hi Alissa-
    The laundry packs by Honest get our okay. There are cleaner detergents out there, but if you like the Honest pods, I think they are fine.

  18. Hi Katie-
    I got my information from the website and a couple of phone calls to the company; I've not yet held a bottle of the soap in my hand, and I'm disappointed to hear that the ingredients listed there are vague and, frankly, sneaky. I agree that there is an inconsistency between the ostensible mission of the company and not only the inclusion of such chemicals, but also the intentional obscuring of their inclusion! That said, I have to reiterate what I said in my post: I think Jessica Alba is sincerely passionate about making safe products, and the vast majority of the Honest line is clean, safe, and…well, honest. It's unfortunate that the dish soap is such a glaring exception.

  19. Where does it say that the dish soap contains the ingredients: cocamidopropyl betaine, phenoxyethanol, and methylisothiazolinone. On the bottle it says water and coconut oil derived surfactants. Are all those things what makes coconut oil derived surcactants?

    Update before I even send. I just need to say, I am surprised that the label of a company who's goal is to be completely transparent, was not so transparent. I went to the website and now the dish soap has an 'updated scent' of white grapefruit and spells out those ingredients you mentioned instead of what's on my bottle, "Water, and coconut oil derived surfactants.". I am disappointed in the 'honest' company and will not be purchasing from them again.

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